I love this piece written by Maria Murname on two common mistakes made by first time authors. It definitely hit home. Here’s an excerpt:
1) All the characters sound the same.
Dialogue is a great tool for character development because it gives your readers a direct line into your characters’ heads. If they all sound the same, however, it can be confusing. When crafting a conversation, think about how the people in your own life talk. Some of them may have pet phrases, or a particular gesture they like to use when making a point. Having your characters do the same will differentiate them from the pack.
Tip: Once I finish the first draft of a novel, I go back and check the dialogue to make sure what my characters are saying is consistent with their personality. My characters tend to evolve as I write, so I often end up rewriting some of their earlier lines because they just don’t “fit” anymore. When you find yourself thinking, “That doesn’t sound like something Sally would say,” you know you’re on the right track.
To read about the second mistake (hint: word replacements for the word said), click here.